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Phoenix Suns Morris brothers plead 'not guilty' at arraignment for multiple counts of aggravated assault

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The legal process continues for the Morris twins as their arraignment takes place in Maricopa Superior Court today.

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The Phoenix Suns had a tough year, and it's only getting worse. Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris have each been charged with two counts of aggravated assault, and face their initial arraignment today on Maricopa Superior Court. If ultimately convicted, the Morris twins could each face several years in prison.

UPDATE: The brothers pled NOT GUILTY to the charges today. The next step is a pretrial conference on June 30, 2015.

According to public records, an indictment was filed by the Grand Jury on 4/29/2015 and there is an entry of 'self-surrender' by the defendants on 4/30, where they made an initial appearance and were read the charges.

Here are the charges, per the Maricopa County public record and readily available to anyone online:

morris-charges

They are each charged with 2 felonies, according to this site: a Class 4 and Class 6.

It's cute that the twins who do everything together - share a bank account, tattoo their body, trim their hair, shave their faces - even get matching felony assault charges.

According to this site, "Class 4 felonies have a presumptive of two years and six months in prison and an aggravated term of three years and nine months. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-701.)". If the Morris twins are found guilty of both penalties, the Class 6 could add another year to those sentences.

On April 30, the 'not guilty plea arraignment' was set for May 7, today. Per the Maricopa County website, an arraignment is just the next step in the process.

An arraignment is held within ten days after the filing of an indictment or direct complaint, unless the defendant has not been arrested or has negotiated a plea agreement at the status conference. The arraignment hearing serves several purposes:

  • The defendant is informed of the exact charge(s) against him/her.
  • The defendant is advised that he/she should have an attorney and if he/she cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided at public expense.
  • The defendant is asked to enter a plea to the charge(s).
  • A pretrial conference and a trial date are set.
Defendants are entitled to a speedy trial (Rule 8; Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure). If the defendant remains in custody, a trial date must be set within 120 days from the initial appearance. Defendants released from custody on bail or on their own recognizance (OR) must receive a trial date within 150 days from initial appearance. In extraordinary circumstances, the trial may occur later than these time frames.

If the defendant intends to contest the charges presented at the preliminary hearing, the arraignment is known as a not guilty arraignment. If a defendant intends to plead guilty, the preliminary hearing is waived and a guilty arraignment is scheduled in Superior Court. The defendant can either plead "straight to the charges," or enter into a plea agreement. Upon accepting the plea, the Court will set a date for sentencing.

If a defendant who is not being held in custody fails to appear at any court hearing, the Court can issue a bench warrant for the defendant's arrest.

The twins could plead 'not guilty' or negotiate a plea agreement. Initial pretrial conferences have already been set for 6/11, 6/23 and 6/30.

INITIAL PRETRIAL CONFERENCE

Following arraignment, defendants who plead not guilty are scheduled for an initial pretrial conference (IPTC). Here defendants have a hearing before a Commissioner to narrow the issues in controversy surrounding the case and perhaps settle it prior to the trial date. An IPTC is usually held within 45 days after an arraignment.

Of course, the twins would love to settle this case rather than go to trial.

According to this site, any aggravated assault conviction carries prison time:

If convicted of Aggravated Assault as a dangerous offense, even as a first offense, you will go to prison.

While your criminal history and the circumstances of your crime will impact the length of your sentence, even those facing a first offense may face from 5 to 15 years in prison. For a second conviction the sentence can increase to as much as 10 to 20 years in prison and a third conviction can be as much as 15 to 25 years.

While there is a substantial risk of jail time, there is still flexibility in the significant range of recommended years a person can be sentenced. An experienced, aggressive attorney will fight to ensure you receive the shortest prison sentence allowed by law.

It is in the twins best interest to plea down the charges to simple assault to avoid jail time, but there is no indication yet that the Maricopa County Attorneys Office has any interest in that plan.

UPDATE: The Morris twins, as expected, pled NOT GUILTY to the charges today. The next step is the pretrial conference on June 30.